Today’s retail customer is savvy. With more information at their fingertips than ever before, they compare online and in-store prices, jump on free shipping offers, and scan for discounts on social media. While it may seem daunting for retailers to keep up with the ever-changing marketing channels, there is one that proves ROI and captures consumer attention: email.
In fact, 77% of consumers said they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email over other channels.
While it gets a bad reputation because it’s been around for decades – with some reports even claiming it’s dead – email marketing is a tried and true method that has evolved with the Internet. A Direct Marketing Association report showed that, of all marketing activities, email marketing delivers the best ROI – an average of $43 for every $1 investment – if used properly. Here are three tips to help retailers build a successful email program now and into the future.
Know how often to send
Consumers like consistency. When your email program sends at odd intervals – monthly, then daily, than quarterly – the unpredictability throws them off, likely causing them to opt out of your program, or worse, label your email as spam. If you send too often consumers will unsubscribe because you’re inundating their inboxes. If you don’t send often enough, consumers will mark your email as spam because they’ll forget who you are.
Build trust with your subscribers by sending your emails at a regular cadence. Whether it’s a monthly newsletter with a one-paragraph teaser or a weekly deals email that comes on Friday, make sure they expect it. If you’re unsure what the timing looks like, allow your customers to select the timing they prefer. This not only decreases the chances of a negative reaction, but also enables predictability of a positive one. For instance, if your subscriber knows you send in-store coupons on Saturday mornings, they might incorporate a stop by your store while they’re running errands.
Make your email responsive and compatible
Consumers open email on a variety of devices: desktop, tablet, smartphone, with different operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows and variety of service providers: Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, Yahoo and more. With so many variables, your email program has to be responsive and compatible or you risk alienating large portions of your audience. Delivering a quality user experience starts with the way your email content is displayed. eMarketer found that 82% of people with smartphones shop on them but only 43% follow through with a purchase on them. This could be due to the lack of usability on different devices.
Ensuring your calls-to-action (CTA) register on smaller screens is no longer an option, and a good email marketing solution will even make responsive CTAs easy to design and include. As consumers continue using their mobile device for product research and purchases, they’ll be less apt to zoom in, scroll side-to-side and work to see your email marketing.
Include product images or coupons
Your customers opt-in to your email program for a reason. They want information, deals or entertainment and each of these pieces of content can be great calls-to-action. People naturally want to click on images, so whether yours is of an ebook about how to match wing-tipped shoes with a tie, a designed sale button or a new product, use it as an opportunity to entice your subscribers to click through to your website. For example, eMarketer found that email campaigns with a coupon had a 34% higher unique click rate than emails without.
Just make sure to follow the rules
Add alt text: If your images don’t load, your subscriber sees the file name of the image. Make sure it’s descriptive and relevant so your subscribers don’t see random text in their inbox
Stay balanced: If you’ve got too much text, too many images or too many links, spam filters will catch your email, so keep your content balanced
Avoid large file sizes: The smaller your image file size, the better because it speeds up email load times. Just make sure to maintain the image quality.
These are just a few tips for improving your email marketing program, but keep in mind that every change takes testing. From your email frequency to the placement of your call-to-action, consistently monitor your click-throughs and conversions and adjust accordingly.
Igor Polevoy is founder and president of ExpressPigeon